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Research Projects

My research involves observations and simple models of minor planets in the Solar System. I am particularly interested in exploring relationships between small body populations, such as the link between near-Earth asteroids and meteorites. This work has implications for topics ranging from the origin of planets to the exploration of small bodies by spacecraft. Check out my publications or feel free to contact me for more info.


Manos3

MANOS — The Mission Accessible Near-Earth Object Survey

MANOS aims to provide insight on the basic physical properties of near-Earth objects. In 2013 this program was awarded multi-year survey status by NOAO and now employs large telescopes around the world including Gemini North and South, the Kitt Peak 4-meter, the SOAR 4-meter, and Lowell Observatory’s 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope. MANOS obtains light curves, astrometry, and spectral data for approximately 10% of all newly discovered NEOs. MANOS goals include informing the link between meteorites and asteroids; understanding the role of planetary encounters on the physical properties of NEOs; and constraining the properties of future robotic and human exploration targets. More info on MANOS is here.

 


Planetary Differentiation

Starting with my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Hawaii I have been interested in the process of planetary differentiation. Increased precision in the dating of differentiated meteorites has revealed that the earliest  planetary bodies in the Solar System experienced metal-silicate differentiation. To understand the timescales and parent bodies associated with this process I have studied the compositions of differentiated asteroids throughout the inner Solar System, and have worked to develop models for the process of differentiation. Ongoing projects include an analysis of Vesta-like asteroids outside of the Vesta family and, in collaboration with Cristina Thomas at PSI, using new observations to test theories for the evolution of differentiated planetesimals.

LOCAMS — Lowell Observatory Cameras for All-Sky Meteor Surveillance

In collaboration with Peter Jenniskens at SETI and the team behind CAMS, we are building fireball camera stations at Lowell Observatory. These stations monitor the night sky to detect the flash of meteoroids as they plunge into Earth’s atmosphere. Multiple stations allow for triangulation of meteor trails, yielding pre-impact orbits and predicted meteorite fall locations for sufficiently large events. The goals of CAMS are to confirm and detect meteor showers, link meteor streams to specific parent bodies in space, and facilitate meteorite recovery in the rare event of large fireballs. Updated info on LOCAMS is here.


Asteroid Pairs

Recent dynamical studies have identified pairs of asteroids on nearly identical orbits. These systems are not binaries — the components are unbound and not in orbit around a common center of mass. These asteroid pairs are very young on geologic timescales, in some cases no more than a few tens of thousands of years old. As such these bodies provide insight into the ongoing evolution of asteroids. I am interested in using observational techniques to place constraints on the formation of these systems. Starting in late 2015, in collaboration with David Polishook at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, we will be using the Hubble Space Telescope to search for satellites around individual members of asteroid pairs to better establish an evolutionary sequence for these interesting objects.